Traders in Zimbabwe risk arrest for demanding payment in US dollars

Zimbabwean traders demand US Dollar
The government last year banned the use of foreign currencies in local transactions

Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has warned that traders who continue to demand payment in US dollars will face prosecution.

In June, the country abandoned the use of the US dollar for its official currency the Zimbabwe dollars; reintroducing a local currency that was scrapped 10 years ago.

But a shortage of local currency and its rapid decline in value has resulted in businesses – including grocers and fuel stations – demanding payments in US dollars.

Zimbabwe imports most of its goods including fuel and food.

Businesses have also been struggling to get allocations of the local currency from the central bank to restock.

“It is taking long for Zimbabweans to adjust,” Mr Ncube told state-owned Zimpapers TV.

“We will be introducing penalties for those who deviate, we recognise we are in transition, we will get there.”

Mr Ncube acknowledged the shortage of local currency in circulation and said authorities will gradually inject more cash “in a very prudent way,” to curb inflation which previously surged to over 500%.

Currently two and five Zimbabwe dollar notes are in circulation.

“We will move to ZWL$10 and 20 and sometime in the near future we will need a higher denomination,” Mr Ncube said.

The cost of a loaf of bread for instance is about ZWL$18.

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